It will take winning and some outside help, but the Louisville Cardinals still have a chance to play in the Orange Bowl this season, which is the BCS Bowl that the ACC is tied to. The only poll that matters now is the College Football Playoff Ranking, so that is the one I will refer to. Louisville enters this week ranked 24th.
Now let’s be clear. When talking about the teams that have a shot at the Orange Bowl from the ACC, they would need Florida State to make it into the Playoff, which would open up the Orange Bowl spot for the next best ACC team. Remember, “next best ACC team” just means the highest ranked ACC team. Head to head means nothing, perception of teams means nothing. It is all about who is ranked highest.
Duke was in the driver’s seat until Thursday night. Had they beaten North Carolina and Wake Forest, they would have been in the ACC Championship. Even with a loss, if it wasn’t too bad, they could have been in the Orange Bowl. Well, they did lose to North Carolina on Thursday night. With only Wake Forest left, and now not going to the ACC Championship, Duke won’t be able to climb back up.
Georgia Tech is ranked 18th and they have a bye this week, but will finish the season at Georgia on November 29. They will then face Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. Georgia Tech can definitely lose both of those games. Even if they beat Georgia and then lose to Florida State, they may find themselves somewhere around where they are ranked now, that 16-18 range.
Clemson enters the week ranked 22nd. They host Georgia State this weekend, which shouldn’t help them gain many spots at all. They finish the season with a home game against Steve Spurrier and South Carolina. Let’s say the Georgia State win gets them up to 20 (just because), but a loss to South Carolina could take them out of the rankings all together. But even if they do beat South Carolina, who should be 6-5 heading into the game, does that really help them gain a lot of spots? Even if they win out, Clemson could find themselves around the 18-20 range, depending on what teams in front of them do.
Now we come to Louisville, who is ranked 24th at the moment. The Cards end the season at Notre Dame and at home against Kentucky. Neither team is ranked, but Notre Dame is probably close. Obviously, Louisville has to win both of these games to even have a shot at the Orange Bowl, and they may need to win them convincingly.
Looking at these schedules and scenarios for the next few weeks…Louisville faces Notre Dame on the road, while Clemson faces Georgia State and while Georgia Tech is on a bye. So there is an opportunity to move up right there. Then Louisville hosts Kentucky, and Clemson hosts South Carolina, while Georgia Tech travels to Georgia. Although Kentucky would not be a very impressive win, remember they did beat South Carolina, who Clemson may beat.
So Clemson could win out, but if the Cards look impressive, I think they can still pass them. They are only two spots behind, and remember: we face Notre Dame and they face Georgia State this weekend. So we could very well pass them with a win on Saturday. Georgia Tech could win one of their last two and possibly still get passed by Louisville, but it would be a lot easier if they would just go ahead and drop both.
Hopefully this wasn’t too confusing. Just to sum it up: Go Cards all of the time, somehow cheer that FSU makes it to the playoff (tough I know), and forget conference affiliation and cheer for the SEC teams to knock off their ACC rivals. Won’t be hard for me. I am a bigger fan of Louisville than I am of Clemson or Georgia Tech, so I care more about us. Do you?